Daily Court Digest: Major environment orders (September 15, 2023)

Down To Earth brings you the top environmental cases heard in the Supreme Court, the high courts and the National Green Tribunal  

By DTE Staff
Published: Friday 15 September 2023

Stop wastewater discharge into Katahal drain joining Ganga: NGT

The authorities need to ensure that no wastewater be discharged into Katahal drain, a stormwater drain in Ballia district, Uttar Pradesh joining River Ganga and all efforts be made to use treated wastewater instead of discharging it into River Ganga, directed the National Green Tribunal (NGT). 

NGT September 13, 2023 noted that the joint committee report of February 9, 2023 mentioned that there is a daily discharge of about 20 million litres per day of untreated sewage in Ganga and there is no information about performance of in-situ remediation claimed at six locations. 

The joint committee also had expressed their dissatisfaction “with the failure of the State Administration particularly failure to hold erring officers accountable for wastage of public money and preventing damage to river Ganga”.

The principal secretary of urban development unit has informed the court that seven hectares of land has been acquired and the tender has already been floated for construction of the sewage treatment plant (STP) and that the work of construction of STP will start with effect from November 15, 2023. 

He also submitted that though the timeline for completion of work is 18 months, he will ensure that the construction of STP is completed and becomes functional much before that.

Further, the court was given the assurance that the complete time-frame, in respect of tackling the issue of solid waste management, management of legacy solid waste and sewage management will be provided by way of the affidavit and he took the personal responsibility to ensure that the said timeline will be adhered to. 

The NGT also took note of the action taken report, which stated the existence of a landfill zone near the Surhatal Bird Sanctuary. 

The Principal Secretary assured that he will examine the issue and study the feasibility of shifting the landfill zone away from the bird sanctuary and submit a report. The tribunal directed that the affidavit disclosing the timeline for completion of the above work in terms of the assurance given by the Principal Secretary be filed within a period of two weeks and listed the next hearing of the case to October 3, 2023.

Domestic effluent from housing projects polluting River Sai in Lucknow: NGT

NGT directed the Secretary, Urban Development Department, Uttar Pradesh and the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) to take immediate action to stop the flow of domestic effluent generated from the septic tanks / soakpit of phase I and II of the Dream Green City project going to river Sai through the drains with immediate effect.

The joint inspection report clearly reveals the lackadaisical attitude of the UPPCB and showed that no attempt had been made to get the order of the tribunal implemented nor they have taken any effective steps to control the violation of the environment norms by the project proponent, said the NGT, September 13.

The court directed submission of a fresh action taken report to be filed by the UPPCB within a period of eight weeks.

A joint committee report April 24, 2023 mentioned that the project was being set up without the necessary consent under the Water Act, 1974 and Air Act, 1981. The counsel appearing for the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) has admitted that the construction is still going on at the project, even though the court April 26, 2023 had directed that no further construction should be allowed to take place till further orders.

The joint inspection report contained various observations relating to discharge of domestic effluent through drains in River Sai. The court noted that nothing has been pointed out to the tribunal to show that any action in pursuance to the above joint inspection report relating to discharge of domestic effluent has been taken.

The report said at the time of inspection in Dream Green City (Phase-I), Khasarwára village , Sarojini Nagar tehsil, Lucknow district, out of total 231 residential plots, houses were found built on about 70 plots in which people are living. 

The domestic effluent generated from the residences is disposed of through septic tank / soakpit whose overflow finally joins the nearby drain. The drain ultimately joins the River Sai after an approximate 4 km distance.

Another project, Dream Green City (Phase-II) in Dhawapur village, had 400 residential plots, out of which houses were built on 300 and in which people are living. Here again, the domestic effluent generated from the houses is disposed of through septic tanks / soakpits, whose overflow finally joins the nearby drain. The drain ultimately joins the river Sai after an approximate 5 kilometre distance.

A report by the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) stated that a compensation amount of Rs 35,62,500 was imposed on AK Infra & Reality Developers for violation of environmental norms which has not yet been paid.

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